Monday August 21
60 Many of his disciples said, “This is very hard to understand. How can anyone accept it?”
I am a human being. So are you. How are we then to live? The answer comes from Jesus. Jesus comes into our world to embody what we are meant to be.
The question we are to ask ourselves this morning is this. Am I ready to be who Jesus is in his relationship to his Father?
Jesus says, “I only do what I see my Father doing.”
If Jesus is my model and he comes to embody what I am meant to be then I am willing to do what Jesus does. So, the question I ask myself this morning is, “Am I ready to do what Jesus would do if he were me?”
Here is the great challenge. What if I find it hard to accept what Jesus would do? What if I find it hard to accept his teaching?
Not all his teaching. Just the stuff that makes me uncomfortable.
In today’s lesson from John 6, we see Jesus has many disciples besides the 12 he chooses to be his closest students. Jesus has been teaching some things that are making many of these disciples uncomfortable.
“This is very hard to understand. How can anyone accept it?”
But, I don’t think it is the things Jesus teaches that I don’t understand that are the problem. It is the things I do understand.
Like love your enemy.
Who is my enemy? Well, who are the enemies of Jesus? They are the people who are trying to do him harm. So, my enemy is someone who is trying to do me harm. Someone who is working against me.
By that definition, to love my enemy is to work for the good of someone who is working to do me harm. But, why do I want to have good come to someone who doesn’t want good come to me? This is a hard teaching.
What is a hard teaching of Jesus for you?
Tuesday August 22
61 Jesus was aware that his disciples were complaining, so he said to them, “Does this offend you? 62 Then what will you think if you see the Son of Man ascend to heaven again? 63 The Spirit alone gives eternal life. Human effort accomplishes nothing. And the very words I have spoken to you are spirit and life.
Jesus comes to embody what we are meant to be. Think about God’s love. Jesus is able to receive his Father’s love. 100%. The Bible says, “Perfect love casts our fear.” In other words, fear cannot co-exist with God’s complete love. Jesus has no fear. If I am to be like Jesus, am I able to receive the Father’s love so completely that I have no fear?
The answer is, “No.” Not without the His Spirit. A better question is, “Am I able to receive his Spirit and learn to receive the Father’s love?”
The answer has to be, “Yes.” There is no other way. Jesus says it like this. “Human effort accomplishes nothing.” There is nothing human-led that is going to be able to cast out fear, make me secure and give me peace. It is the Spirit alone who gives eternal life. Life the way the Father means for me to live.
This is why God calls us to pursue his Spirit. God calls us to realize he loves us.
You see if I hope God loves me it is not enough. If I start with the fact that God does love me and I have faith in this, then I am able to receive his Spirit. What is faith?
The Bible says, “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.”
Faith is being sure and certain. If I am sure and certain God loves me, even though I can’t see God, that’s faith?
Yes, this happens because the Holy Spirit brings this faith. Jesus embodies what it means to have complete faith in what the Father is doing. Jesus becomes the intersection between heaven and earth. So, because he embodies what we are to be, the things of heaven, like perfect love and no fear, can be ours like they were for Jesus when he walked the earth.
What are human ways you tried to attain peace in your life?
Wednesday August 23
64 But some of you do not believe me.” (For Jesus knew from the beginning which ones didn’t believe, and he knew who would betray him.)
65 Then he said, “That is why I said that people can’t come to me unless the Father gives them to me.”
If you have faith that Jesus can do what he says he can do, this faith itself comes from God. You can’t come to God any other way than by Jesus. You can’t come to God through human effort. You can’t come to God through your intellect alone or your spiritually, how in tune you are to the mystery, you can’t come to God through your emotional experience. You come to God through Jesus. Then with confidence in Jesus, God comes to you. God reveals himself in your intellect, your spirituality and your emotion.
This is not for everyone. Not everyone can accept Jesus. Once again, if you accept Jesus into your life, you accept his teaching. And one of his teachings is you can’t do faith alone.
We are called to follow Jesus as a community of those who follow Jesus.
“I am spiritual; I am just not religious.” What does this mean to you?
Thursday August 24
66 At this point many of his disciples turned away and deserted him. 67 Then Jesus turned to the Twelve and asked, “Are you also going to leave?”
Jesus comes into the world to embody what we are meant to be. Think about how Jesus chooses to live his life as he is sharing God’s mission to be a blessing to the world. Jesus says two words. “Follow me.” In other words, he doesn’t go it alone. The savior of the world doesn’t save the world alone. He joins with others and becomes part of a body of believers. To be a Christian is to be part of a body of believers. To belong to a community of faith in such a way that you live life together. This is what Jesus embodied.
There is a crisis in the church in America today. People are leaving the body. I am not talking about leaving one church and joining another, but leaving church period. It is estimated that 43,000 people are leaving the church every week in America.
There are many different reasons give for this. “The church is boring, the church is judgmental, the church is irrelevant, the people are hypocrites….”Of course, anecdotally, there may be some truth to all of that. If you haven’t figured it out yet, voluntarily becoming part of a human community is going to be messy. But the one key reason people are leaving churches today may be they were never part of the body in the first place.
Think of it this way. Any time you are attached to to a body and you become unattached there is pain. Think of the human body. Amputation and removing organs always involves pain. But, many of the 43,000 don’t necessarily feel pain in leaving. When they are interviewed they are perfectly fine with their decision, which is a sign the attachment wasn’t there in the first place.
When you are part of the body of Christ, you are attached for good. The body may be messy and being part of the body may be painful, but if you are there for Jesus- you don’t desert him.
Do you know people who have left being part of a church and are fine with it? Think about that.
Friday August 25
68 Simon Peter replied, “Lord, to whom would we go? You have the words that give eternal life. 69 We believe, and we know you are the Holy One of God.”
If Jesus comes into the world to embody what we are meant to be, then we are meant to be with him and his people. Where would we go to experience the love of Jesus except with a community of Jesus, messy and painful as it might be? When we are not worshiping Jesus and living life together there is a cost.
But, if we are to embody Jesus there is something else we must consider. There are people who need Jesus and who are ready for Jesus to come into their lives. Actually the way Jesus designs it, there are people waiting for you that need what you have. A Christian community where you experience the love of Christ through the people of Christ.
This is not about trying to grow a big church. The death knoll of the American church has been comparing the size of churches to each other anyway.Though I notice this isn’t as much the hobby of Christians today, maybe has something to do with the 43,000 a week, but comparisons have always been a mirage.
Huge churches can be wonderful places for Jesus to be shared and they can be something else. Someone recently put it this way. “Clowns and Shysters also draw large crowds.”
Now I don’t have any church in mind or pastors in mind, it’s just that this church or any church at it’s best is a community where people get to meet Jesus and learn from him.
It can be a church of 10,000 or a church of 12. Evidently Jesus wasn’t very effective at growing a church as he lost the crowds who were following, he just got done feeding 5000 men plus women and children after all, and now Jesus is left with 12. Well, even one of them is going to leave later!
But, there are people who are waiting for you. There are people whom Jesus has in mind for you to connect. Who are they? Pray each day, “Jesus show me who needs you. Jesus put someone who needs you in my path today.”
This doesn’t mean this person is going to come to church with you. This does mean Jesus is ready to bless someone because you are in their life, though. Join with him and see what happens.